tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC August 18, 2018 4:00pm-5:00pm PDT
it is time to broadcast my threat to broadcast commercials. thank you for putting up with us. i am nicole wallace. we will see you back here for deadline white house. we are having a big news night. we have been prepping for two days. we have a special guest, former cia director, john bren an, he is the first in what the president has threatened will be a long line of senior law enforcement and intelligence officials who security clearances the president plans to revoke all on his list so far, are people who might be in a position to conceivably testify about what they observed during the russian attack on the 2016 election.
ties to campaign officials and reaction to the investigation from inside the trump transition, the trump white house and from the president himself. after the president yanked the former cia director security clearance, he told them in an impromptu journ, the reason he went after him, the reason he revoked the security clearances, is because of the russia investigation. telling the journal, quote, i call it the rigged witch hunt. it is a sham. these people lead it. no president is ever known to have every enter vined to revoke clearance. for the reason this president explained in this case. when you are on uncharted territory, you don't always know what will come next for usaz a a
count country. when are you in the middle of uncharted attacks like this you have to wonder what it feels like. this interview with john brennan will be the first live interview since the president took this action. thank you very much for being here. i know you have choices on where to be. >> thank you for having me on. >> you were cia director 2013 to january 2017. president obama's counter terror homeland security advisor. 20 years before that you have been through stressful situations in your life. >> as far as i am concerned, i am fine. it is not unexpected. first note thad my security
clearance was under review. i learned when someone called me, sara huckabee sanders announce tmptd for one, it was a head's up. secondly, i am not shocked at all the appalling thing that is mr. trump has done. this is an egregious act that flies in the face of traditional practice, as well as common sense and national security. i think that is why there has been such an out-cry from many intelligence professionals. want to support me, but to support the principle that security clearances are something that very, very slm and sacred and never ever should be used for political purposes, either to grant friends clearances or to revoke your critics. >> of all of your government service, clearly, are you familiar with the processes and procedures, including the
processes that exist for revoking them for cause. when the president signalled that he may go after your security clearance, did you expect that cia would then be put through paces in terms of the normal procedures for how these things go? evaluate if you behaved in any way to justify this action? did you expect that it would go through channels? >> i would have expected it. these are not normal times, quite frankly, very frightening times, i didn't expect any adherrence to process or steps in measures and regulations that exist by executive order. mr. trump believes because he has the authority to do these things, that he has the right to do it irrespective of what is truly the appropriate thing to do. >> and appropriate is a general word there. other observers have suggested
that etch though the president does have the right to handle security clearances as commander-in-chief, are are executive orders that supposedly guide the way these things are handled. it may be illegal, what the president has done. the top democrat suggested the same thing. are you considering legal action? do you think you have a legal right to exert against the president here? >> a number of lawyers have reached out to say there is a strong case here. not to so much reclaim mine, but to prevent this from happening in the future. i am thinking about what it is that i might want to do. at this time. i am trying to make sure that principle is what is going to be defended and supported. and this is something that should not be repeated. the other people on the so-called enemy list now, this is an example of mr. trump
trying to frighten and intimidate others, having works in the national intelligence community for many years, these are not the type of people who will be bullied by the likes of mr. trump. >> there is a list. former senior, one currently surveing justice department official, there are some new bs him tonight, i want to get your reaction to. that has broken in the last hour or so. among this list, you appear to be first. the president is threatening to revoke everybody els. he reacted against you. do you have a sense as to why the president thinks you are so special? why he start wide you? i don't know i guess i don't know if i am asking about something personal. the way i imagine it might g there may be something that you know, or that he knows that you know that may be making him particularly angry or nervous?
>> i don't know what it is for mr. trump to be focusing on me. we met him only once. when we briefed him on the russian interference on the election, that is the only interac. i have been outspoken, and things i have said, you know, irritated him. i wish i didn't have to say these things. it is one thing to have policy differences, substantive differences with presidents, i have had them in the past with previous presidents, what gets under my skin is mr. trump's lack of decency, honesty, and integrity, and lack of commitment to this country's well-being and national security. mr. trump is motivated by whatever is the best sbf mr. trump that has been him for many dxds, i was hoping he would change, once he assumed the office of the presidency.
for my first year, i spoke out when he was in front of the agencies memorial wall and spoke about the size of his inauguration crowd. i did it selectively. i gave him a year. i said, maybe he is going to adapt and change. it seemed like, day after day, week after week, month after month, things got worse. he didn't live up to what americans expect of the president of the united states. to speak with great forcefulness, but to do it with intregitty and honesty. mr. trump, time after time, has disappointed millions of americans, which i am trying to give voice to. many think that a former intelligence official should not be doing this. i never registered as a republican or democrat in my life. i feel a commitment to this country's security and rep taking. i am the son of an immigrant.
my father taught me and my siblings early on, how important it is to take the privilege of being born an american citizen. when i see what mr. trump is doing, trashing the reputation of this country world wide. the way he treated americans, how he refers to them, the divisziveness, polarization, that is not what this country is about. >> presidents over the generations, some of them have been terrible jerks, if you read the right history books, some of them deliberately divisive, treated people in their personal lives or political lives. your criticism of president trump, rises above that type. despite what you articulated, vugone further than that after
helsinki, you were stark and scary of your criticism of his behavior. you said it was nothing short of treasoness. >> it has been singled out, maybe by you, that crossed the line. >> crossed what line? freedom of speech? >> i am not saying you don't have a right to say it can you elaborate it is it is a serious allegation. >> i know what the russians did. i have 100%, to stand on the stage in helsinki, and the world's eyes, why would the russians interfere in the election, he has given the russians a pass time after time. the investigation is a witch hunt. to me. this was an attack against the
foundational principle of our great republic, the right all of americans to chose their elective leaders. for mr. trump to dismiss that, yes, sometimes, my irish comes out. and in my tweets, i did that it rises to exceeds the level of high crimes and misdemeanors and nothing short of treasonous. he had the ability to say, this is something that happened, it should never ever happen again, if russia tries at all to do it, they will pay a serious price for it. i don't expect mr. putin to acknowledge it. he will deny t denight. for the president of the united states to continue to on this issue, does a great injustice and disservice to the men and women of the intelligence special law enforcement community and a great disservice
to the people of the united states. that is why, i didn't mean that he committed treason, but it was a term, something short of treasonous. >> that is the -- nothing short of treasonous mean its is treastr -- it is treason. >> guto the word tree son, suggests that you think that president serves a foreign country rather than our own. >> yes, i think he crossed the line repeatedly. in terms of his failure to fill full the office. to look putin in the eye and say, this should never happen again. >> do you think that he is knowingly serving the russian government than the u.s. government? >> i scratch my head a lot as to
why he acts this way. i won't pretend i know. there is something worrisome about someone who occupies the oval office interacts with mr. putin. don't got me wrong, i was a strong supporter of that during the obama administration. i stuck my neck out on syria, we need to work with the russians to bring this carnage to a halt. time after time, the russians would faint sincerity. we need it behind us. i don't want it to royal the waters forever. we need a president that will acknowledge this, and make sure he is able to move on. >> how do we get in behind us?
you are suggesting there are things that have not been laid out fairly with the president and his connection with russia. should we decide to move on observe we know? >> it is called the mueller investigation. the duly appointed special council, given the mandate to investigate what russia did, in terms of interference in our presidential election, who might have been working in support of russian objections, who committed a crime in that prowe prowess. robert mueller is a national treasure, he needs to continue on this investigation unimpeded. in great detail, it named conspirators, there was an arrangement among actors, and they took actions.
they defined. >> on the part of a foreign government. >> yes. >> because of that experience has been defined. what would an american have to do to be considered part of that experience? if you have a foreign experience, orchestrated by a foreign government, what does it mean to have, we talked about the word collusion, it is refrigerator poetry. used by anybody ux if any reason. what would amount in intelligence terms to an american being part of that conspiracy, the one defined by robert mueller. >> i will leave it to the lawyers, to decide if it is criminal or not. in my mind, it requires someone to knowingly support the efforts of a foreign government to interference with u.s. domestic politics. any american working with the
russians or intermediaries, those americans who knowingly tried to coclude, conspire and work with them in order to advance their political objectives here in the states, i think that rises to the level of experience. a lot depends on what robert mueller has been able to uncover. maybe there is none of it. in my op-ed, in the new york sometimes, there is collusion in open sight now. so many things vilearned because of what appeared in the press. the trump tower meeting, don jr. and others. when i was cia director, i didn't know it was a day that he called to the russians to find the emals, it was the same say they will looking for it. i don't know if that rises to the level of experience, or if
that conspiracy rises to the level of liability. >> you in an opening congressional testimony last spring that in the summer of 2016, you at cia were alarmed by, your radar went up about the number of contacts between russian officials and u.s. persons at a time that russia was mounting the interference campaign. did your radar go up about that because it appeared that that russian operation had the engagement of americans toward that end? or specifically, because of the americans, the specific u.s. citizens, who the russians were targeting? i am well aware. intensive effort, as i said in
my op-ed. myself, jim comey, and we talk about the importance of making sure that our collection radar was up, so we had early indications to be able to uncover any effort on the part of the russians to work with american citizens, who are reaching out to russians to see what they could get. to get dirt on hillary clinton. my radar was going, the knew the russians were engaged in this effort. i was aware of contacts with american citizens that may have been totally innocent on the american citizens part. >> was it clear to you that is part of the wayerishia was trying to accomplish objectives? >> i was concerned and aware that russians were trying to leverage u.s. citizens in order to achieve their objectives in the presidential election. >> while you were in office before you left on inauguration
day, did you conclude that u.s. persons were successfully leveraged in that effort? >> no. that is why i said in open testimony, i was concerned about the contacts, people will go down a treasonist path, and can't extricate themselves, the russians are clever in getting people in positions of potential compromising positions, and can't turn back. if any of those were working in support of the russian efforts. >> those were referred. those concerns about u.s. persons -- >> we call it incidental collection, cia collection. any time we would incidentically
collect information from a u.s. person, we hand it over to the fbi. they have the legal authority to do it. we would not pursue that we give it to the fbi. we were picking things up, great relevance to the fbi. we wanted to make sure they were there, to piece it together to whatever they were collecting. >> intelligence sharing operation. >> put together officers together with cia, to make sure the proverbial dots would be connected. >> during your tenure as cia director. i don't believe you were asked this. early fall of 2016, i know, personally, that two well respected reports here at nbc approached you, and asked you about a story that they were chasing conserving president trump, and the connections he may have to russia and the
kremlin. you were approached by reporters, they were asking for on the record, off the record guidance on that story. they say, you told them, i don't think i can help you that where with that, or this. i don't have that for you, i can't help you. >> you offered no help. this was september of 26. it sounds like you did know. the press was coming to you from within this building. was that of interest to you that press seemed to be on to this. how did you handle it? >> i don't think i have asked this question a news show. i informed the senate intelligence committee about this. my closed testimony. it was in september. to two journalists, note worthy
members of the media, asked me about a report, that contained salacious information related to donald trump? specifically aske alleged sex tape? >> they were talking about that. and used some of those descriptors, did go into great detail, and lead me to believe it was related to some thing that is may have happened in moscow. i didn't confirm or deny anything. for various reasons, one, i don't talk to american journalists about u.s. persons, ever. much less talk about a u.s. presidential candidate to journalists. and it was later that year december that i put my eyes on
the so-called steel dossier. with those two members, this must be what they are talking about. they said it was widely circulating among the media and the press. this document, report, rumors, whatever else. i told them, i can't help you with that. i am not going to engage. it was subsequent to that they connected the dots and said, they must have been talking about what ultimately was referred to as the steel dozier. i didn't see it until december. there are members of congress who claim they told senator majority leader reed about it, that is false. i did not half eyes or information on that until after the election. >> after the election. >> that's right. >> before it was pushlished. >> it became a hot topic of
debate, fbi, cia, and take that dossier into account. we decided no. there is no way we could substantiate it. it was not taken into account at all as the assessment was done and was completed. >> the president made a specific, on the record allegation against you on that specific topic there. is a bit of breaking news about the security clearance, after the president revoked your security clearance. former cia director, brennan is my guest. are you ready to take your wifi to the next level?
it's the ultimate wifi experience. xfinity xfi, simple, easy, awesome. >> joining us for his first sit-down interview since president trump revoked his security clearance, is former cia director john brennan. i want to ask you about breaking news from "washington post." white house drafts more revoking the clearances of former and current officials, president trump be punished for criticizing him or playing a role in the russian interference. trump wants to sign most if not all of them, said one white house official, who indicated,
press secretary huckabee-sanders and others, have released times to release them during unfavorable news cycles. it had been prepared in late july. the decision to take that step was made this week, to divert attention from nonstop coverage of a book from omarosa newman. >> do you have any reaction to learning that that, too harding to a white house official s why the president took this action against you this week? >> no, other than this is just another demonstration of his irresponsibility of terms of holding the office. he has the authority, he has revoked my clearances and
others, i am not a lawyer, i know that there is a question about whether or not there is corrupt intent. in terms of doing this. i think this is a thing that lawyers, and courts and others are going to be looking at. in terms of whether or not mr. trump is doing any of this to obstruct justice or silence critics, whatever. the fact that he is using a security clearance of a former cia director as a pawn in his public relations strategy, i think is just so reflective of somebody who quite frankly, don't want to use this term, but he is drunk on power, he is. he is abusing the powers of that office. i think this country is in a crisis. in terms of what mr. trump has done and is liable to do. are the republicans on the hill, who have given him a path, they will wait for a disaster to happen? before they actually find their
backbones and spines to speak up against someone who is clearly not carrying out his responsibilities, with any sense of purpose and common sense from the standpoint of national security. >> when you raise that prospect, what disaster are you envisioning? >> i don't know. what if he wants to do something on the foreign front, in terms of a military adventure? wag the dog scenario. as a way to disstrakt attention, as the waters get choppier, what else is he going to do to distract attention? i am surprised sxfrpz disappointed in republican members of congress. a lot of them i know well and respect. for whatever reason, they are turning a blind eye and making excuses for someone who doesn't deserve to be given this type of lee with the authorities of the office of the presidency.
>> the authority that is is experting, no president has been known to use the revocation of a security as well. there is particular concern, even went the white house, he extends to strip bruce orr, some suggested that depending on what mr. orr's job is, stripping his security clearance, may be a way of firing him. if he needs a security clearance to do his job. >> it would be. >> is the president fire people, disable people, if he is constitutional unable to fire them? >> i think he is out of control. he has the steering wheel of the american in his hands. he is trying to preserve and
protect rimz. when things get, you are going to wake people up. the icons of a national security saying enough is enough. when are the members of congress, in the republican party going to say, enough is enough? this country is more perform i hope it happens sooner than later. >> the security clearance, raced the question to me as to whether or not he might do that to the attorney general. calling him not a real attorney general or the deputy attorney
general- -- oeb boeb mueller or the team of investigation there. >> that was raced by former cia director. >> i think it demonstrates, with mr. trump. he can yank security clearances of anybody he wants. if he decides to yank the clearances, they won't have access to classified information to do their jobs. how disoperate will it get? do it republicans want to clean up after a disaster or stop this because it becomes disastrous. it is their on their shoulders, on their conscious.
>> since you left the cia. you returned to the agency to review materials, the loss of your clearances, affect your ability to do that? >> i returned to the cia, congressional testimony. review theifiable, to make sure i was able to review. with using my security chances, to talk, give brief. i have never gone into cia to ask for a briefing. i have never gone in there to
sthaek in term its of their reaching out to me. officers are nervous about finding out they insulted me about the matter. >> speaking out in support of you. >> support of the principal. >> in support of you, personally, praise and support for you there, too. even among former officials who don't agree with your criticism of the president, reject any allegation that you mishandled your security clearance in any way. 60 former cia officials, joining their own letter this is a larger issue, in terms of public debate on this matter. can i chain you to the desk for one more segment? >> sure.
>> the first interview since president trump revoked his security clearance, thank you again mr. brennan. you said, one of the questions that remains to the answered now, is how many members of trump incorporated attempted to defraud the government by concealing money into their pockets. it seems like are you making an organized crime individuals. >> the individuals who are associated in one way or another with president trump. gates admitted it. paul manafort his trial now to the jury, charged with extensive activities. i don't know who else is
seerkted with mr. trump. are you talking about the former campaign manager, and deputy campaign manager. as the of the as a result, they are an important part of the investigative process. >> is there a money eliminate to the russia operation to influence the election? there are some baking and money moving illusions, seemingly not on a large scale in the mueller indictment. as far as you can tell us, is there a financial component to that that may be helpful in an investigative way or understanding the scale of the crime? >> i know that the russians have used monneprevious efforts to try to influence an election. i spoke with jim comey about
this, in terms of what monies might be moving, to u.s. persons, maybe they were not at all affected the campaign. the term, follow the moni is an important one. organized crime or counter intelligence. i wouldn't be surprised at all if the council uncovered final transacs that do speak to russia's efforts. >> one last specific thing. you were cia director through the transition, your last day, noon on inauguration day. from the campaign, employed for a new purpose during the transition, once trump was elected, and president-elect. published reports, russian efforts were redirected to try to sway the selection of some of the president-elect cabinet.
specifically, the russian bots, trying to black ball mitt romney, secretary of state, and rex tillerson. you were cia director at the time those things were happening, can you comment on that? >> russian involve 789 in the aftermath of the inauguration on january 20, 2017 did not stop with election day in november. they continued throughout the course of those months, between election day in inauguration day. in order to do whatever they could to insure that whatever happened in american politics in 2017, 2018 and beyond was going to be as favorable to them as possible. >> director brennan, one point you made in the initial segment. you are considering legal action
in regard with your -- >> it would be not to reclaim mine, but not to affect clearances in the future. i am worried about the it was a privilege every day of my life to, be part of this wonderful country strong and safe. i don't want to ever allow a politician or something in the oval offense to cavalierly toss around security clearance, i will fight on behalf of those who still have their clearances. >> i have disagreed with you. >> i look forward to discussing those with the in the future. >> i have profound and earnest support for your service. director brennan, 25 year
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>> after a total of 14 hours and deliberations, jurors in the case of paul manafort haven't reached a verdict. weekend off. back in court 9:30 a.m. on monday. there is another legal threat about the president and the campaign. pulling on while we wait for the verdict. today the deadline for the special council office to file sentencing relating to george popdop lis, he pled guilty to lying to the fbi about his contacts with russian officials working on the trump campaign. he will be sentenced on september 7th.
since he pled guilty, he has been cooperating reportedly with the special council's office. it will show us how much prison time he might get. it is an important window into how the cooperation thing with him went. if he was a helpful cooperator, able and willing to help the special council office with the investigation, they may recommend a shorter sentence or vice versa. interesting it ea leaf we have been waiting for the deadline was the recommendation, we waited all day long. the clock was ticking a bit louder than normal, because papdaplis's wife saying, she thinks her husband should stop cooperating with the government. sue the government indeed. we had our eyes glued to the case, waiting to find out what government was going to say about him. finally, at 8:24 p.m. eastern
time, we got the sentencing recommendation, the government is recommending that judges sentence him to prison for zero and six months, telling the judge the defendant's crime was serious, lying, that quote caused damage to the government investigation into russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. because he lied about the russian government connected professoror, that professor quote got away. the defendant's lies undermined the ability to challenge the professor or detail or arrest him while he was still in the united states. the government understands that the professor left on february 11th 2017, and has not returned to the u.s. since then. prosecutors tell the j after he was arrested, after he was the charged with lying to investigators, he was still not forthcoming with the
investigation. quote, the defendant didn't provide substantial assistance, much of the information provided by the defendant came after he was confronted with internet sench history, e-mails, and subpoenas, well after the fbi interview, as the government continued the investigation. the defendant didn't notify the government about a cell phone he used in london during the course of the campaign that had on it substantial communications between the defendant and the russian professor who promised him dirt on hillary clinton. he did not turn over that cell phone until the fourth and final session with the fbi. >> the special council office is not making a suggestion as to what motivated him to lie to investigators when they first questioned him about contacts with russian officials while working on the trump campaign. they do say this. the record shows at the time of the interview, when he first
lied, he was attempting to security a job with the trump administration. had an intensive to protect the administration and minimize his role as a witness. in 2017, he had contacts with the incoming administration, to obtain a position with the energy department. in the hours after being interviewed by the fbi, the defendant submitted his biography, and the work he did on the campaign, to get a position in the energy department. after he is questioned by the fbi, he is asking to be an assist in the energy department. >> when he was lying to the fbi about that, he was in talks with the trump transition team to get himself a high ranking job.
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>> if tulive in the united states and you follow the u.s. convention of writing out calendar dates like this, digit representing the month, two digits for the day of the month, and two digits for the year, look. written that way, today's date in the same going backwards and forwards. august 17, 2018. is 8-17-18. and backwards, it is 1-1718. it will keep happening,
tomorrow, will be 8-1918. thank you. 81818 and sunday, 81918. math and symmetry may not be your thing. in a world that could use balance, i will take it happy 817181. now, for the other big interview, i turn to my colleague. >> one point with brennan, i thought was entering, he seemed to want to convey to you and everyone watching, he doesn't view what he is saying is politics or partisan. he is giving analysis. this retaliation that you are documenting, is designed to make people look